Data security tops business concerns

Report finds pandemic exposed technology adoption gaps in treasury management space.
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One in three business leaders said data security is a top concern, with 21% citing secure authentication and payment authorization as must-have features of their treasury management platform, according to a new survey by Citizens Commercial Banking.

For reasons that include disruption caused by the pandemic, survey respondents said they are spending more time using their treasury platforms, with the number of users on those systems 30 hours or more per week increasing 12% from a similar survey conducted last year. Nearly half said they want their time using the software to be more productive, and 22% said they would like to have more self-service capabilities to increase efficiency.

Michael Cummins, head of treasury solutions at Citizens Bank. Courtesy Citizens Bank

“Business leaders are working from home more due to the pandemic, and it is exposing some technology gaps that their systems may have had,” said Michael Cummins, head of treasury solutions at Citizens Bank. “They are very concerned about data security, and they want self-service capabilities so they can customize their systems to fit their routines and work more efficiently.”

Cummins spoke to the Business Journal last month about the Citizens survey. He said the technology gaps are more likely to be gaps in awareness and adoption of existing technology rather than a lack of options.

“Some of the items are just products that are out there that customers may not have been availing themselves of — fraud protection, for example,” he said. “(The automatic fraud detection tool) Positive Pay has been around for years, but some customers just didn’t use it. Products like that, customers are looking at more seriously than they had pre-pandemic.”

Cummins said Citizens Bank held a webinar in May surrounding the topic of fraud protection, which focused on “making sure that customers avail themselves (of) any fraud tools that are out there, that they are constantly monitoring their accounts, that they have the right levels of approvals for any type of transactions they do,” etc.

“Those are the types of things that we’ve been talking to customers about — that, in addition to, should you consider moving off some of the paper processes that you have into more of an electronic environment,” he said.

Cummins said on the efficiency side of things, some companies still are using payroll and accounts payable systems that “don’t talk to each other,” making it hard to send payments from one to the other. He said banks’ treasury solutions representatives can help clients streamline their existing processes to become more efficient, as well as help them navigate switching to back-office software systems that handle many applications on one platform.

Other key findings of the survey include:

  • Related to the desire for an increase in systems efficiencies, work-life balance has become increasingly important in the past year. 64% of respondents said if they could get back any “wasted” time during the week, they would spend it on enjoying a better work-life balance, compared to just 40% in the 2019 survey. 
  • The majority (87%) of respondents are satisfied with their accounts payable payment options, with most utilizing wire transfer (64%), paper checks (59%), ACH (51%) and cash (43%).
  • The majority (88%) of respondents also are satisfied with their accounts receivables payment options, with most utilizing wire transfer (69%), paper checks (61%), ACH (51%) and cash (51%).

The survey of 252 corporate decision-makers sampled a range of businesses in different sectors with annual revenue of $1 million to $25 million (32%); $25 million to $100 million (18%); and more than $100 million (50%). It was conducted in June 2020.

More information and webinars by Citizens Bank on protecting and growing a business can be found at bit.ly/citizenslearning.

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